Elizabeth, NJ 07208
- Cost: $$
- Credit Cards: All Major
- Alcohol: Full Bar
- Parking: Street
May 16, 2016
Look for the neon shamrock outside on Newark Avenue (parallel to Route 1/9, five minutes from Newark Airport). This local watering hole sits on a residential block across from an empty lot. Nugent’s stakes its claim as “Elizabeth’s oldest neighborhood tavern,” dating to the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. Before then, the establishment was called the “Highway Restaurant” and served factory workers from the Durant Motors plant, which used to occupy that lot.
From the curb, the bar looks a little divey. Inside, you step into a tavern with a long curved mahogany bar. There’s a pool table, darts and dining tables in the back room. On the Friday evening I visited, the crowd included a few bikers, a cluster of locals, and some people just off work – all seemed to be regulars.
Nugent’s offers a decent beer selection — old standbys (Yuengling on tap, bottled PBR and Rolling Rock) with some craft specials on the blackboard — and an impressive list of American, Canadian and especially Irish (some 30 selections) whiskeys, .
Nugent’s reputation for good food put the spot on the EthnicNJ map. Their pub burger does not disappoint. The “Jersey Boy” Burger with Taylor Ham and cheese (how could I resist?), is just the right size, cooked to order, atop a Kaiser-style bun that holds up nicely under the toppings. Creative burgers on the menu include the “Goober” (with bacon, cheddar cheese, a sunny side up egg and peanut butter spread) and the “Fat Pat” (with jalapeno poppers, sour cream, bacon, and cheddar cheese). Pub grub includes wings, regular and Irish nachos (with potatoes and Guinness cheese), a bar pie pizza and disco fries. Irish fare includes a Guinness beef stew served with potato pancakes, and Irish bangers with mashed potatoes and gravy. The menu here ranges far and wide, however, from pierogies to fish and chips to Swedish meatballs. Ask about daily specials. Drunken clams in a briny beer broth really hit the spot when I visited.
With friendly bartenders, good food and a blue-collar Jersey vibe, I can’t think of a better place to stop in for a drink or a bite, or to pass the time before or after a Newark flight.